Thursday, April 23, 2009

Auto-Tune and Susan Boyle

In the week after the discovery of Susan Boyle, a 21st century Scottish Jenny Lind, I have just learned about Auto-Tune, which (apologies if I seem behind the discovery of the wheel), if anything, would seem to guarantee that frumpy, raw talent like Boyle will never get through the doors of the music industry, because a pretty face and hot body with a voice half as good as Boyle's could be packaged and Auto-Tuned into (the) perfect pitch...

"Auto-Tune is used to disguise inaccuracies and mistakes, and has allowed many artists to produce more precisely tuned recordings. In addition to being used to subtly change pitch, with some settings it can be used as an effect to deliberately distort the human voice." (Oh, now I get the cheap gimmick in every Kanye West song, ever!)

I am interested in Boyle's personal life up until her discovery by British talent show, Britain's Got Talent, for all sorts of reasons, not least that elements of her life up until now remind me of a quiet desperation I felt when growing up in Dungannistan. She is the child of Irish immigrant parents to Scotland, and grew up in miserable Blackburn, another victim-town of Britain's decades-long appalling social and urban policies and equally appalling industrial decline. That's it: whether you understand the history of these places or just breath the air, you can taste and smell the misery.

People oftentimes are so reduced that there is never any chance for them to escape or advance, nor can they grasp the powerful forces that act on their lives. Yet their lives must be lived, to their conclusion. Religious faith enthusiasts will witter on about preparing for the next world, and so we slide grave-wards and the vast privilege of being alive is squandered -- and compared to most of the world's population, Boyle's life has been relatively good, living in Blackburn (as opposed to, say, Brazzaville).

A final thought: in the west we have had a century or so of feminism and increased rights for women, and we find ourselves confronted with the anomaly of Boyle. Her story has touched so many people precisely because she's a dumpy spinster with no hope, always outside, looking in.

In particular, in the eleven days (more than 100 million YouTube hits, already a record!) since her performance, her story has been everywhere here in the U.S. One commentator: "It's really, really hard to make a career if a woman isn't attractive."

Will the human race ever really address its most fundamental, age-old, fucked-up problem, misogyny: men maintain their false 'superiority' over women in every way, and set the rules of the game of life, and more often than not,women usually help preserve this status quo. I often despair!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Crazy Woman at the Library

Just now, at the New York Public Library branch on 23rd Street and Seventh Avenue, a crazy, self-important busy-body woman screams at the library staff (and everyone within hearing) and ends her complaint with this peroration:

"You are a crack house and a brothel!"

Update: this above would have been the sort of needless information I could have disseminated on Twitter or via Facebook. And it would have mattered even less.

A Pirate in New York City

"[This] is the singular case of Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse (above), a Somali who speaks no English, is of uncertain age, and is being prosecuted under a federal law that has not been used in many decades and carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

On Tuesday, less than two weeks after the government says Mr. Muse and three other men took command of an American cargo ship off the coast of Africa, Mr. Muse was sitting in a packed courtroom, almost swallowed up by a large chair, his left hand bandaged heavily, as lawyers and a federal magistrate judge wrestled for more than an hour just to figure out how old he was." (-- NYT).

It could be a swansong, an amusing coda to New York City's status as the beating heart of Capitalism, but how odd that a pirate is on trial in Manhattan! I read elsewhere that during Thomas Jefferson's Presidency, piracy along the North African coast was so rife that he ordered U.S. ships to go on the attack, in effect launching a 'war' that of course he ought to have first asked permission for, from Congress... The last successful pirate attack on a U.S. ship was in 1804, 205 years ago.